People often use the term ‘depression test’ to refer to a simple checklist of depression symptoms. However, psychologists reserve this term for a set of questions which has been tested for statistical reliability and validity using formal research methods. A depression quiz, on the other hand, is a set of questions about the symptoms of depression in which the questions themselves have not necessarily been tested for statistical reliability or validity.
So it might seem to research psychologists that a depression test is always preferable to a depression quiz. However, I look at it differently. A good depression quiz can have the following advantages over a thoroughly researched depression test:
- An informal depression quiz can contain the expertise and experience of particular clinicians whether or not there exist methods to test the validity of a particular question on the quiz.
- A depression quiz can be longer and more thorough since adding questions does not significantly drive up the total costs of research.
- A particular depression quiz can contain more focus on a particular perspective that one or more clinicians have found helpful to real people. Such an angle or perspective may or may not be feasible to prove, since researchers often only agree on items that support the lowest common denominator among differing opinions.
The depression quiz that I am currently developing is based on years of experience assessing and treating people for clinical depression. Seasoned therapists know that depression can be effectively diagnosed by asking the right questions and compassionate listening with experienced ears. One of it’s important features is that it has a wider scope than many of the well-respected depression tools such as the Beck Depression Inventory. Specifically, there are questions asked that pertain to the symptoms commonly associated with depression as well as causes.
In a nutshell, I believe that a well-crafted depression quiz has more potential bring out the information that is most useful for breaking free from the agony of clinical depression. When I have completed my depression quiz, I will make it available on this page or link to it from this page.
A few months ago, I wrote about the need for a depression quiz with more obvious connection to the the symptoms of depression. When a test or quiz seems to be measuring what it claims to measure then we say it has face validity. The short depression quiz below is a short version of a longer one that will include secondary symptoms. Note that there is also a PDF version of this short depression quiz available for download.
Using a sheet of paper or digital notepad, number your answers 1 through 16. For each question, enter number (0, 1, 2, or, 3) of the statement that is most accurate in describing how you have felt in the past two to three weeks (or longer).
Q1: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not been sad.
1 I have been more sad than usual.
2 I have been sad more than half of each day.
3 I have been sad almost constantly.
Q2 Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I haven’t felt inadequate or like a failure.
1 I have felt inadequate.
2 I’ve been feeling like a failure.
3 I have felt like a real loser.
Q3: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not been feeling guilty.
1 I have more guilt feelings than before.
2 I have been really guilty—like I’m being punished.
3 I have been feeling like I deserve to be punished.
Q4: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not been particularly discouraged.
1 I have been more discouraged than usual.
2 I have not been looking forward to anything.
3 I’ve felt hopeless; that nothing will get better.
Q5: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not had any thoughts of killing myself.
1 Although I would never do it, I have had brief thoughts of killing myself.
2 I have frequently wished I would die painlessly.
3 I have repeatedly wanted to kill myself.
Q6: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have had no problem getting started on tasks.
1 I’ve had to try harder to get started on things.
2 I’ve really had to push myself to do anything.
3 I’ve been feeling like I cannot do anything at all.
Q7: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not been feeling any more tired than usual.
1 Basic tasks have been making me unusually tired.
2 I’ve been feeling desperately tired—as if I am barely hanging on by my fingernails.
3 I have felt so tired that I can’t function.
Q8: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not been particularly angry or irritable.
1 I have been more angry or irritable than usual.
2 I have been irritable or angry most days.
3 I have been angry or irritable almost constantly.
Q9: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not felt particularly worried or stressed.
1 I have been feeling more stressed than usual.
2 I’ve been feeling very stressed and that the pressure is too much.
3 I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed by stress, worries, or pressure.
Q 10: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 Boredom hasn’t been a problem and I enjoy things as much as I usually do.
1 I have been feeling less satisfaction with things.
2 I have not gotten pleasure from anything that I enjoyed previously.
3 I have felt no satisfaction; I feel completely numb to any pleasure or satisfaction.
Q 11: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have had as much interest in people as usual.
1 I have not wanted to be around people as much as usual.
2 I have preferred to not be around people as much as possible.
3 I have lost my interest in people completely.
Q 12: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not been more prone to blame myself for bad things that happen.
1 I have been more critical of myself
2 I have caught myself thinking of all my faults much more often than usual.
3 I have been constantly criticizing myself harshly or scolding myself for anything bad that happens.
Q 13: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 I have not felt like crying more often than before.
1 I have cried or felt like crying more than usual.
2 I have been close to tears almost constantly.
3 I have been crying all the time and can’t seem to stop.
Q 14: Most of the time during the past few weeks
0 My sleep has been as good as it usually is.
1 My sleep is not as good as it usually is
2 I frequently wake up a few hours early and then it takes a while to get back to sleep.
3 I have been waking up a few hours early almost every night and rarely do I fall back to sleep.
Q 15: If a physician I trust said I was clinically depressed
0 I would be surprised because it hasn’t crossed my mind.
1 I would be somewhat relieved because there would finally be an explanation for why I feel so terrible.
2 I would probably feel weak, embarrassed or ashamed.
3 I would probably decide that it’s time for me to snap out of this and quit feeling sorry for myself.
Q 16: If I believed that I was stuck in depression, and my doctor recommended anti-depressant medication:
0 I would never take medication.
1 If I thought it would help, I would take the medication but keep it a closely guarded secret.
2 I might take the medication, but I would be extremely hesitant to do so.
3 I would have no problem taking medication and really I wouldn’t care if anyone found about it.
Scoring: Add up the numbers for each of the items you circled for questions 1- 14 only. More detailed instructions for evaluating your score are in the works. In the meantime, if you think you might be depressed, then do the following:
Print out your depression quiz and your answers and take them both to a mental health professional who is qualified to assess clinical depression.
TOTAL FOR Q 1-Q 14:_____________